Conservatives proudly call themselves Christians, and then rail against the Pope when articulates Jesus' attitude toward our current economic/political climate. So it's time to go back to the basics... Jesus 101. One of the best places to understand Jesus attitude toward "trickle-down" economics and the current Conservative corruption of his teachings toward the poor, can be found in his first public prayer. A prayer meant to teach us to pray.
Almost everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer. We learned it in Sunday school when we were young. We were taught to recite it ad nauseum until it was forever burned into our memory. It’s a prayer that begins: “Our Father in Heaven…”
From the moment he begins this prayer, Jesus takes up a “socialist” stance… we do not come to God alone… we cannot come to God alone. We come to God as a community. If I am to pray for me, I must also pray for you. “Give US this day OUR daily bread… Forgive US OUR sins… lead US not into temptation…” This prayer is corporeal—in both supplication, and fulfillment. There’s a very good chance that my daily bread is going to come through you, and that your daily bread is going to come through me, at least in part. So Jesus, in teaching “me” how to pray, does so by teaching me how to prayer for “you.”
The Lord’s Prayer happens within the greater context of the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5 and 6. Here Jesus announces to his listeners that he hasn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. As he says, “Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
The significance of this statement is that Jesus is taking the current legal structure defined in Deuteronomy, and practiced by all Jews, and elevating it. That “law” was an intricate succession of rules and regulations about how we treated each other and God. Jesus, however, took that law and elevated it into the Gold Rule: Rather than “eye for an eye” which was really moderating the amount of revenge that could be exacted, Jesus said, instead, treat others the way you want to be treated… even when it comes to revenge.
One could easily argue that to “fulfill” Jesus’ new approach to the Law, one would have to stop looking at the other person as a separate from “me.” If I hurt you, I hurt me. If I protect you, I protect me.
To be clear, nowhere in this sermon does Jesus say that our prayers will alleviate the human condition; including hunger. He simply says that we are not rugged individuals or libertarians whose only responsibility is to ourselves. In taking care of each other, according to Jesus, we fulfill the Law.
We now live in a rather bizarre political climate. Our “Christian” leaders have taken up the cause of the very rich and now stand in opposition to those seeking “their daily bread.” They mock those who seek justice—much as they mocked Jesus. They turn a blind eye to the real suffering around them—just as the Jewish leaders did in favor of their Roman overlords. In this climate, Jesus words take on that much more power. As long as there are those who are hungry—and who aren’t being attended to, then the Law is not fulfilled. As long there are those who suffer—and who are not being attended to, the Law is not fulfilled.
From there, Jesus will move on to advise us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and then all these “things” will be added.
Jesus’ take on the Kingdom of God is rather complicated. We see in his prayer that he believes that the Kingdom of God is already among us, and that it is working itself out right here on Earth. He separates the “Kingdom of God” from Heaven when he says “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” However, it’s reasonable to believe that when Jesus calls us to “Seek first the kingdom of God,” he’s saying, “The Kingdom of God IS US… we’re it… seek each other.”
Everything in this sermon stands in such profound opposition to the political ideologies being played out in in Conservative politics. While Fox pundits attempt to vilify those seeking their daily bread, what they’re really doing, according to Jesus, is sabotaging themselves, since the only way that they can beseech God for themselves is to also beseech God for “the least of these.” It’s not “My Father,” or “Your Father,” it’s “OUR Father.”
So while Bill O' Reilly pretends to speak on behalf of Jesus, until he takes on Jesus 'socialist' stance toward humanity, in particular toward the poor, he actually speaks for the very people Jesus abhorred. People Jesus called, "White-washed sepulchres," "dead men's bones," "brood of vipers..."
In Jesus' prayer, we must join humanity first, or god will not even acknowledge us.